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Showing posts with the label oldBuildingsRuins

An Incorrigible Kodger in Bisbee

Maybe Wayne was right the other day about beauty being available even in towns and cities. For instance the Mobile Kodger and I were walking through Bisbee AZ yesterday on our sojourn to New Mexico. Old mining towns -- even if they are tourist traps -- put me in a good mood regarding towns, cities, and -- dare I say -- even people. And I needed the advantage since I was walking through a funky town with the inimitable and incorrigible Kodger.

Those who have never had this experience might have difficulty imagining it. It took a few blocks for the Kodger to reach his stride. We started downtown, in the high-rent district: art galleries, gewgaws, baubles, trinkets, and bourgeois matrons. There really is a sad and noble beauty to the silent suffering of  any husband who is in tow in a place like this. The most humane and sensible matrons leave their suffering saints at home and do Bisbee with "the girls". In fact it might be a good idea for any man who is seriously considering m…

A Lost Love in Mining Town Funkiness

I hope to never outgrow an eyelash-fluttering susceptibility to dilapidated or funky buildings as seen in mining and desert rat towns. One of the best was a decaying stucco dump next to the bakery in Ajo. The friendly baker told me that it had been razed because it was 'ugly, dilapidated, and unsafe'. Yea well, So What, lady.

Who wouldn't love ocotillo-reinforced adobe? Ugly indeed! (But say one word in criticism of the bourgeois mindset that wants to destroy beauty, and readers will dismiss the blogger as a "cynical curmudgeon.")

Fortunately I've been finding some new dumps to replace this lost love. This one is certainly unique:

I didn't even know that corrugated tubes for under-road culverts came that big. Hopefully they've got some insulation in there! Perhaps the local building codes and ordinances limit culvert-housing to flat lots.

Into the Abyss...and Beyond

The month of May has found me as a professional tour guide, by my usual standards. Currently I am hosting the fourth RV-blogger visitor to the Little Pueblo. Quite early in the process I realized how difficult it is to be a good tour guide. My own interest in anything is primarily based on its experiential context, not on its purely visual appeal, and never on its appeal when looked at through a windshield. And say what they will, travelers tend to exist on a visual level more so than a resident.

Take, for example, a big hole in the ground. Its chances of being put on a calendar sold by the Sierra Club are not so good. But the terror I feel around old mine shafts makes it one of the most powerful experiences that I ever have in the great Outdoors.

I knew of a local legend, a steel net, that masked off a vertical mine shaft. It had taken two years to find it in the old mining area that stands over the Little Pueblo. During that two years, the idea of a bottomless mine shaft became my o…

Another Wreck

Tuff and Tolstoy

After visiting the dilapidated old hospital the other day, my visitor and I wandered over to a geologic oddity in our area, where a codgerish RV friend was camped. (And a high quality campsite it was.) Due to the sybaritic sleeping habits of a couple members of our conversational quartet, we arrived too late to get really good photographs of this interesting pile of giant boulders.

My first question at the visitor's center was: why here and not ten miles away? Well, cuz this is whar the rocks iz, the volunteer guide answered. (I rolled my eyes.) Let's try this again: what is so special about the local geology that spectacular rocks are found only here, and not over the entire local area?

Actually I'm just having some fun at the volunteer guide's expense. After a slow start he cranked up to give good explanations of how a local volcano deposited a layer of volcanic tuff over the area. Then they vertically cracked and eroded until most have disappeared; only in this one …

It's Only a Dry Beauty

My visitor and I wandered over to the old fort to check things out.

It was so tinder-dry around that area, and that made for unpleasant walking through dry brush. We avoided most of it since my companion lacked the sort of clothing that would have been natural in that area. (He wears shorts in the Southwest! grin)

It's probably a common thing to go somewhere to see something, and then finding the mind drift off to something quite different.

I wondered how I got sucked into appreciating the beauty of dry texture. Do you select a retirement area because you carry a latent image in your head, and then the land develops the image? 'Beauty' is different than mere prettiness of course. Did other people who live in this area get sucked into the same thing?

Cliff Dwellings

After two and a half years of living in the Little Pueblo I finally made it to the local attraction, the Gila Cliff Dwellings. I was surprised by how interesting the scenery was on the way there: good viewpoints and deep canyons. In the background is one of the branches of the mighty Gila River, before Phoenix gets its paws on it. The "porches" faced to the south; very comfortable, all year around.

Just when the photograph was framed the way I wanted it, an interloper wandered into it. At first I thought he was some kind of New Age/Native American shaman. I dunno. I didn't know that Hawaiian shirts and shorts were sacred to the Native Americans.

Chihuahua Hill

On our standard winter bicycle ride we pass this house on a steep street up to Chihuahua Hill. There's something about the curvature in that front porch that grabs my eye as I grind away on the mountain bike.
Maybe it just shows how some people's brains are geometrically oriented.

Towards the end of the ride we were at the usual coffee shop, enjoying a sunny wind-break from the building. A retired couple -- visitors from Juneau -- were asking me about the Little Pueblo. It was an innocent question and they probably wondered why they were being punished by having to listen to five times as many opinions as they really needed to hear. But I was delighted that they liked the funkiness of New Mexico, which is quite a contrast to the boring architecture in the other Four Corner states.


The Big Valley

Our latest camp was high over little Jerome AZ, and the grand Verde River valley. This is about as far north as you can go in AZ and still be semi-warm. Winter starts with a vengeance in a couple days, and I don't want to surrender too soon to the moonscape of the Mojave.

The red rock cliffs of Sedona glow at sunset. I could enjoy this right from my trailer door:
I've never actually visited Sedona. I cling to my geo-bigotries as tightly as the old mining town of Jerome clings to the side of Woodchute Mountain. Jerome wasn't as tourist-kitsch as I feared; only the main buildings along tourist central are over-restored.

I took the dogs on a short hike, right from town. I was in a foul mood,  because of van maintenance problems, poor comportment by one of the dogs, and the claustrophobic road layout. If that weren't bad enough, we soon encountered volcanic rubble, my least favorite geologic layer. It had taken four attempts to find this miserable, gnarly road.

It …

The Modern Lighthouse

Lighthouses in a landlocked state? Well yes, if you look at it right.

I'm probably not the only one who sometimes dawdles or procrastinates when they arrive in a new town. Sometimes there are so many choices, and they seem like such big projects, that you do nothing. That's why it helps to work for a dog. They have more sense than we do sometimes. They just want to get out there, and without thinking about it too hard. 

So we hike to the first cell tower or radio antenna site. These are more than the source of cellphone and wireless internet signals; they are navigational aids to the entire lifestyle of an RV boondocker. They are to me what an old-fashioned lighthouse was to a seamen. They don't look like each other, exactly, but they have other similarities. Both are tall edifices that stand out and emit powerful signals of electromagnetic radiation. The main difference between their respective "lights" is the wavelength, which is a million times longer for the…

The Bunk House of Silverton

Now that I finally knew the route to the old Bunk House (or Boarding House) on the cliff at the 12,000 foot mine, it was time to do it! I drove up a road that was really meant for ATVs or small jeeps, but the odds were pretty good that I wouldn't pass any other motor vehicles. Vacationers don't like early starts or dead end roads, and Labor Day was over.

Maybe this is why they invented ATVs and Jeep Wranglers!

I parked below treeline in order to enjoy hiking through it and into the open. We hiked the narrow footpath that presumably was used to build the tramway that sent ore down from the mine, and supplies and men up to the Bunk House.

It was no mystery how miners chose a spot to start digging: they looked for quartz veins at the surface. Gold dissolves in quartz at high temperature. Indeed you can still see such quartz veins.

This was the steepest face we have hiked on, this summer. My little dog enjoys scaring me by scampering by me, on the outside of course, and…

An Ancient Housing Development

Pecos Pueblo, near Pecos, NM.  A traveler in the Four Corner states has to visit a few pueblo Indian ruins, which usually come with a fine old Spanish church. I've visited a couple pueblos located far enough east to have traded with and fought with less settled tribes from the high plains to the east, like the Apaches.

Imagine what it was to be a Plains Indian seeing a five-story pueblo building for the first time. It must have been similar to a pony-mounted Mongolian, in Genghis's era, riding east until he got his first look at a Chinese city.

But what did the more settled and civilized Puebloans think of the Plains Indians? As a Plains Indian rode east, away from the Pueblo, perhaps some of the Puebloans looked at him wistfully and thought, Ahh, there goes a real man, living in harmony with nature.

The best part of visiting the Pecos pueblo was the chance to crawl down into a restored kiva. It's surprising that the Park Service trusts the public that much. (An…